Feb 282009
 

If you have never seen the Showtime original Dead Like Me you are in for a treat. It was a hour long dramedy about Grim Reapers and the afterlife in this life. Sadly, its life was cut short after two short, but memorable seasons. I first discovered the show when I was in college at home working during its summer run and was enraptured by its mix of comedy and poignant moments. It was a rare show that captured the things that we take for granted in life and laid them bare for us on the television screen every week.

The summer ended, but the show was incomplete for me as I had only seen a fraction of the episodes, so when the first season came out on DVD I rushed out to get them, even though I was in the midst of moving out of my fraternity house; the show was so good that I had to take the time to catch up on the episodes that I missed, even during the hustle and bustle of moving into a new house and I made it a point to get Showtime in my new home so I wouldn’t miss out on the second season.

But why was this show so special? The answer to that question is the characters. So let’s stop my trip down memory lane and get to the meat of why we’re here.

The show revolves around Georgia Lass who died when she was eighteen years old, the victim of a toilet seat from the MIR Space Station’s disintegration upon reentry. Moments after her death, she was informed by Rube, her manager of sorts, that she had become a Grim Reaper, and that to earn her place in the afterlife she would have to help usher an undisclosed number of people into the great beyond before she would get her final reward.

In the first season Georgia joins a small group of reapers who work in the External Influence division of the reaping business, which leads to some great moments of slapstick comedy; especially if you’re into schandenfreude. The first season deals with the nature of reaping and why they are needed, as well as how Georgia’s family deals with the loss of their oldest daughter. It’s a tale of Georgia’s path to acceptance of her own death and rebirth, a death that was very hard on her because she didn’t really get to have a life before she had died.

The second season is where the show hit its stride. Georgia’s fellow reapers were fleshed out and made sympathetic; we learned how they lived and how the eventually died. We learn that they almost all ended their days in a really funny and appropriate end that somehow wasn’t supposed to happen, which is why they ended up reaping. The second season brought its greatest unresolved storyline though: head reapers Rube’s past. Rube was the all business middle management guy that you wanted to hate, but let you know through his actions that this was just a job, and to not take it personally. The storyline was getting downright interesting, just as interesting as Georgia’s journey through the second season and it seemed that there was going to be some sort of resolution in the third.

Then it came: news that Dead Like Me was cancelled; gone, dust in the wind. But like a good story about the undead, it came back with a straight to DVD movie which picks up five years after the second season left off.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death is the culmination of internet pissing and moaning and it would not have been possible without the precedent set by fans of other shows. For this, the producers of Dead Like Me have these communities to thank:

· Family Guy

· Firefly

· Futurama (more about this one later)

· Star Trek

  • Any number of other shows saved by the fans that I’m forgetting

I was weary of Dead Like Me coming back, really. Mandy Patinkin’s seminal sympathetic middle management reaper character Rube was gone from the cast, due to his contractual obligations, and they got another actress to play fellow reaper Daisy Adare. I knew about these developments over a year ago, and I was skeptical about the turn of events. I felt that this could not be a good thing, especially going straight to DVD, an almost sure sign that things were going to suck.

Let me tell you that I was wrong. This was a good movie and an excellent continuation of the series. The writers took the missing Rube and ran with it. They showed how important of a character he was by removing him from the plot. This is outstanding writing in any medium. Acting is another concern, they got another actress to play Daisy Adare, which will initially make long time fans feel like something is off, but is pulled off so flawlessly that you will not miss it after the first few minutes.

The main plot deals of the new movie deals with issues that were treaded over in the first season, about the basics of reaping and the morality of what they are doing. But this serves a dual purpose, it helps bring those who aren’t familiar with the mythology of the show in, while reminding the rest that the lessons of the past have a bearing on the present.

I’m trying to be as vague as possible, because Dead Like Me is such a good show that I don’t want to reveal very much. I want more people to see it. I haven’t even touched on Georgia’s part time job at Happy Time Temp Agency and Delores Herbig. I can’t recommend this show enough, it’s smartly written, genuinely funny and it will force you to try your absolute hardest to not let too much of the cat out of the bag when you try to tell people about it.

I usually won’t plug, but I saw both seasons plus the new movie as a box set at Target for $50. I paid that price per season a few years ago. So do yourself a favor and go buy it, or at the very least add it to your Netflix que.

[tags]TV and Movies[/tags]

About Joe Smith

I’m patiently waiting for the future. I want to sail on the sea of stars, I want to get into a bar fight with a Cephelopod buddy fighting at my side. I want to believe in a good blaster by my side. I want to be just like Captain Harlock when I grow up. I might also be in the market for some rental time with Doc Brown’s DeLorean or any functional time machine, so if you can help me out, I’d appreciate it.

  6 Responses to “Dead Like Me: Back from the Grave for More”

  1. DLM was an excellent show, although I now look forward to the ‘Movie’ as you have outlined here.

    Dead like me,
    Wyatt.

  2. I also loved the shows, and I recently saw the movie and came away with a completely different feeling than you. I thought the plot of the new guy in charge (even though I like that actor) was only half conceived. Without giving anything away, his motivations seemed like a tacked on excuse, so he can progress the plot, instead of the other way around. the show did such a good job of letting the characters push the story forward, while the movie was just the opposite. I also didn’t much care for the new actress as Daisy. There was a great deal of nuance in Daisy’s character that went missing with the new actress. I don’t think she was a bad actress, but she couldn’t pull it off like the original. I don’t understand why they didn’t just replace the character, which is how they got Daisy in the first place back in the first season. Unless the movie actually moves this forward to a series again, it feels to me, like a wasted and incomplete effort.

  3. I agree with Ami.

    As for the concept of not minding Laura Harris’s replacement after a few minutes, fie! Fie, I say! That’s just crazy talk. I won’t give up Laura Harris until you pry her from my cold, dead fingers.

    But seriously, this film has a lot of disruptions like that which will serve to make a fan of the TV show uncomfortable. And this film will *only* be seen by fans of the TV show. There are a lot of things I like about the film, particularly Reggie’s story line, but I did not appreciate the changes even if there were sound practical reasons for them.

  4. I disagree. Laura Harris was a far better Daisy Adair and I thought about that the entire time I watched the movie. Something was missing from the reunion with Reggie. In the past, the scenes when she and George accidentally met were so charged. Rube was my favorite character and I thought this movie lost a lot of the series’ original personality.

  5. I loved this series. The movie was so so though.

  6. I was really disappointed with the movie. The two seasons of the show were brilliant! And the movie..the disappearance of Rube and the new actress playing Daisy just wasn’t right. In the show Daisy annoyed me to death but watching the movie with the new one made me even more annoyed because it just wasn’t the same. They made her seem more so stuck in her era and more airheaded than the original Daisy. The new actress just didn’t fit the part as much as the old one. Why didn’t the original actress play her?

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